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As it comes under intense scrutiny for failing to protect models from sexual harassment and for promoting a “non-inclusive” body type, Victoria’s Secret has canceled its 2019 fashion show.
In an official announcement on Thursday, the company’s Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of L Brands (Victoria’s Secret’s parent company) said the company will be evolving as it markets itself.
“We think it’s important to evolve the marketing of Victoria’s Secret, that is happening in certain respects now and I think there will be more to come,” said Stuart B. Burgdoerfer, as reported by HuffPost. “If that continues to get evaluated, again, we believe the most important thing is the quality of the merchandise itself.”
“And with that said, we’re figuring out how to advance the positioning of the brand and best communicate that to customers,” he continued.
The announcement comes at a tumultuous time for Victoria’s Secret, which has faced intense scrutiny from top industry names. This past August, over 100 models, including Christy Turlington, signed an open letter to the company CEO demanding he implement more protective measures against sexual assault and harassment.
“We are writing today to express our concern for the safety and wellbeing of the models and young women who aspire to model for Victoria’s Secret,” the letter said. “In the past few weeks, we have heard numerous allegations of sexual assault, alleged rape, and sex trafficking of models and aspiring models. While these allegations may not have been aimed at Victoria’s Secret directly, it is clear that your company has a crucial role to play in remedying the situation.”
“From the headlines about L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner’s close friend and associate, Jeffrey Epstein, to the allegations of sexual misconduct by photographers Timur Emek, David Bellemere, and Greg Kadel, it is deeply disturbing that these men appear to have leveraged their working relationships with Victoria’s Secret to lure and abuse vulnerable girls,” it continued.
The brand has simultaneously been criticized for having a lack of “body inclusiveness,” which reached a fever-pitch when Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek told Vogue that little interest exists for plus-size and trans models on the runway.
“I think we address the way the market is shifting on a constant basis. If you’re asking if we’ve considered putting a transgender model in the show or looked at putting a plus-size model in the show, we have,” Razek said, adding that the sister division, Lane Bryant, was created to fill that consumer need.
“We invented the plus-size model show in what was our sister division, Lane Bryant,” he continued. “Lane Bryant still sells plus-size lingerie, but it sells a specific range, just like every specialty retailer in the world sells a range of clothing. As do we.”
“We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world,” he said. “We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t.”
After an intense backlash, Victoria’s Secret hired the company’s first transgender model, Valentina Sampaio of Brazil.